I frequently curate ‘pattern interrupts’ like the one above from Karen Salmansohn at notsalmon.com and I love her mind and her images. Did you know she is also a beautiful thinker? Here’s proof…
You can get there by making small changes daily. After all, it’s easier to be a saint for 15 minutes, than to be a saint for 2 hours. Right? Of course! I’m personally a big fan of small daily changes – which means I’m a big fan of “Kaizen” – which is a Japanese word which pithily summed up means: “doing small changes over time which create huge life changes.”
With all this in mind, I want you to do a Kaizen Experiment. For the next month commit to devoting a tiny 15 minutes a day to a new improved habit- and tweak your way to a happier life. The good news: You can always find an extra 15 minutes in your day!
More good news: Brain researchers Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang believe if you can train yourself to stay disciplined for a mere 15 minutes a day doing a specific task – eventually – over time – you will become a more disciplined person in general – and be able to do a habit for far longer than 15 minutes!
The Brain Research Cliff Notes: Aamodt and Wang have discovered that a human brain‘s overall willpower capacity increases like a muscle every time a human practices even a little bit of willpower — for even 15 minutes — because the human is literally strengthening their brain‘s neural pathways.
Meaning? If you want a toosh of steel, exercise your toosh muscles a little daily! If you want a discipline of steel, exercise your discipline muscles a little daily. On an amusing note: Aamodt and Wang mention in their report how increasing “a human’s overall willpower muscle” can begin with something as simple as disciplining yourself to brush your teeth for two weeks with your non-dominant hand.
Well, instead of having you brush your teeth differently, I want you to brush up on doing “that thing” you know you need to brush up on! For example: Yoga stretches. Jumping rope. Organizing closets. Meditating. Gratitude journaling. Staying in closer loving touch with friends/family. Reading that NYTimes Best Selling book. Reading that cute picture book to your child at bedtime. Writing that book you want to write. Writing that business plan. Looking into a family vacation. Creating a vision board (then happily staring at your vision board) etc…
Basically, sometimes the idea of doing something new to change your life can feel so overwhelming – that you wind up choosing not to do anything at all. However, if you commit to doing a tiny 15 minute habit a day – moving one tiny 15 minute step forward a day – you will happily discover changing your life is not as overwhelming as you‘d thought.
Start today. Right now. Start to do “that thing” you know you gotta do – for just a mere 15 minutes of doing. No excuses. You can find 15 minutes. I promise you that if you can do this 15 minute habit tweak daily for the month, over time you’ll want to do this habit more and more – and over time you’ll find yourself smiling more and more – because both your discipline and your happiness will increase substantially.
By the way, I believe thereʼs a secondary reason why discipline for changing your life increases when doing small 15 minute habit changes over time. Youʼre creating what I call “identity shifting.” Basically, when you start doing a new disciplined live-improving 15 minute action, your identity begins to shift to see yourself as a disciplined life-improving person.
Your subconscious starts to say: “The old me did not used to have discipline. But lo and behold, now this new me does! I be da boss of my cerebrum, baby!” Thereʼs even a famed psychological theory called “Cognitive Dissonance” which explains this identity shift. The Cliff Notes On “Cognitive Dissonance”: We humans donʼt like to have a disparity between our thoughts and our actions — so when we change our actions, we change our thoughts to match them.
For example: If Human A starts to do a loving action for Human B — through Cognitive Dissonance — Human Aʼs brain will start to tell them “Geez, I must surely like Human B if Iʼm now doing a loving action for them!” As a result, according to studies on cognitive dissonance, Human A will wind up liking Human B a wee bit more.
Likewise: If you force yourself to do positive, disciplined actions, then your brain — via the perks of Cognitive Dissonance — will start to tell you, “Geez, I must be a positive, disciplined person if I am doing positive, disciplined actions.” Eventually you will wind up being a wee bit more positive and disciplined!
I hope Karen doesn’t mind that I shared her post in its entirety on my blog. You can find her site by following the link and she has books full of pattern interrupts and other great thinking available on Amazon.com:
If you like By the way, for those of you keeping score at home this is post number 5,000 on this blog…
- Cognitive Dissonance (bjconquest.com)
- Cognitive Dissonance For a More Perfect Understanding (realintent.org)
- On Cognitive Dissonance | Arronsw (danielmiessler.com)
- Cognitive dissonance in pictures of Syria and the West Bank (ifaynsh.wordpress.com)
- Music Helps Process Conflicting and New Ideas/Experiences – Yea, Babee!! (kevinkindsongs.com)
- Structured Settlement Quotes and Cognitive Dissonance (structuredsettlements.typepad.com)
- The efficacy of musical emotions provoked by Mozart’s music for the reconciliation of cognitive dissonance. (bitwise.r12.railsrumble.com)
- The World As We Interpret (dranilj1.wordpress.com)